C5 takes on 1,500 to tune videos

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The Independent Online
Channel 5 is recruiting another 1,500 video re-tuners before it goes on air early next year. It means Britain's final terrestrial channel will offer up to 8,500 people jobs in the run-up to its launch in February 1997.

The move follows the Government's decision to award the channel 35 frequency to the new station, which had initially planned to employ about 7,000 re-tuners.

Channel 5's coverage has been extended by an estimated 1.8 million homes or about 4 million people. It sets up a mini jobs bonanza. Re-tuners are paid pounds 4.50 an hour but can earn lucrative bonuses if they exceed targets.

Channel 5 will also use the UHF channel 37 frequency in key areas of the country. Frequency 37 reaches an estimated 74 per cent of the population.

A Channel 5 spokeswoman said: "It is good news for local economies and the public are being very co-operative. We're recruiting hundreds of re- tuners every day.

"Channel 35 is great news because it means four million more people will be able to receive us. The extra work means we will be postponing our launch for a few weeks. No new launch date will be agreed until we meet the Independent Television Commission.

"We want to make sure that the extra re-tuning is done at the same time as the original plan to avoid confusing the public and to ensure it is done as swiftly and effectively as possible."

Although 11.4 million videos will need to be checked not all of them will need to be re-tuned. The company could spend up to pounds 120m re-tuning them.

Channel 5 is determined to put an optimistic face on the delay saying that the extra frequency will allow it to boost its expected advertising revenue.

The company had expected to take pounds 120m from rival broadcasters in its first year. The two month delay anticipated for the extra re-tuning work reduced this projection by some pounds 20m. But a spokesman for the channel said it was working to a new estimated revenue of around pounds 112m.

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